The Year of Bread
2009 was the year of bread for me. My husband had read an article about a man who decided that in addition to New Year’s Resolutions, he would also learn a skill each year. He decided to learn to play the harmonica, and said by the end of the year he was actually a pretty good harmonica player.
In 2009 I decided the skill I would learn was baking bread. I was pretty intimidated by this goal, because my prior attempts had produced nothing but rocks. But, with the help of the internet I decided to go for it – and I mean really go for it! For the first 6 months that year, I bought almost no bread. I made everything: sandwich bread, baguettes, english muffins, rolls, pizza dough, cinnamon rolls, hamburger and hot dog buns, croissants…pretty much any type of bread you can imagine.
The website I learned from is the Fresh Loaf. They have great lessons, starting with a simple bread that is only water, yeast, flour, and salt. In the next lesson you make a loaf that has sugar and butter as well. He teaches you how it changes the dough when you add these to the recipe. The third lesson is information about all kinds of ways you can change a basic bread recipe. If you’re at all interested in learning about bread, I highly reccommend using these three lessons as a starting point.
One of my current favorite recipes is this Artisinal bread found on Say YES! to hoboken. The more artisinal, rustic, flavorful breads take time to make – like several days, because the flavor develops over time. Which is fine if you’re great at planning ahead. I love this recipe that Liz shared because the dough can keep in the refrigerator for up to 2 weeks! It makes 4 small loaves, so I just make a batch and keep it in the refrigerator so it’s ready whenever I need it.
In the next few months I’ll be sharing some of the things I’ve learned about bread, including some of my favorite recipes.